Parliament approves increase in Swiss aid budget

Ready for shipping: Swiss humanitarian cargo bound for Venezuela. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

Parliament has approved a development aid budget of CHF11.25 billion ($12.42 billion) for 2021-2024, an increase of CHF147 million compared with the previous period.

This content was published on September 15, 2020 - 11:47

The lion’s share of the funding is for humanitarian aid (CHF8.78 billion), with the other pillars being peace and human security (CHF258 million), financing for Eastern European states (CHF1.025 billion), and economic development cooperation (CHF1.186 billion).

As announced by the government in February, the new strategy foresees a reduction in the number of states with which it works and the focusing on four priority zones: the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia (Central, South and South-East), and Eastern Europe.

It also plans to continue intensifying cooperation with the private sector.

Uncertain times

Much of the debate in parliament focused on the amount of aid allocated, which some politicians on the left said was too low. The only parliamentarians to oppose the budget were from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.

Carlo Sommaruga from the left-wing Social Democratic Party regretted that the proportion of the annual Swiss gross national income (GNI) set aside for development aid would amount to 0.48% over the three-year period.

“We are far from the objectives set by the [United Nations’] 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Sommaruga said. He said the amount was lower than what was previously demanded by parliament (0.5% of GNI), and lower again than the objective set by the international community 50 years ago (0.7%).

Given the current economic situation, the coronavirus pandemic, and the uncertainty of the coming years, it would not be wise to raise the budget even more right now, said Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

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